Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer
Life is good! That is, if you work for Big Oil or had "a bang-up year" like investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. Goldman, which was helmed by Henry Paulson until his May appointment by President Bush to Treasury Secretary, announced year end bonuses for its 26,500 employees averaging $623,418.
Alas, if you don't work in "high finance" you need not be "green with envy" because a good stock market translates to a good economy and, according to Forbes Senior Editor Neil Weinberg, "a trickle down effect where the people who are making this kind of money are also going to be spending a lot of money."
Hopefully someone remembers to tell the 35 million Americans living with "low food security" (hunger), the 37 million Americans living under the poverty line and the 46 million uninsured Americans that the trickle is coming. This might prove a difficult sell to the newly minted 5.4 million who moved into the poverty neighborhood since President Bush took office.
Elderly Americans, 2 in 5 of whom are living on less than $18,000 a year including Social Security benefits, are not likely to do cartwheels upon hearing that the trickle is on its way either. And the low-income Americans with disabilities who experienced 50% cuts in their housing programs, might wonder if they will receive additional trickle. It would be unfair, however, to say that the poor have not made some gains under President Bush. For example, now the IRS makes sure that half of all audits are conducted on Americans making less than $25,000 per year...
In light of the record profits and ginormous bonuses regularly bandied around on the news, one might wonder why Congress felt compelled to pass the $50 billion Tax Relief and Health Care Act on the last day of its recent lame duck session. Among the many corporate giveaways in the Act is the waiver of $10 billion in lost Gulf of Mexico royalty payments owed by Big Oil to the US Treasury but avoided due to a loophole. Thus, for all intent and purpose, Congress stole billions of dollars from the American people and gave it to a few companies that had just made $93 billion over the previous nine months. (Question - who lives with, eats dinner, plays golf, whatever, with these monsters?) Perhaps secure in their knowledge that nothing could be done to improve their legacy as the most depraved Congress in the history of the country, the evildoers would also fail to close the oil royalty loophole providing Big Oil with a gift, from American citizens, worth billions of dollars a year for a long long time to come.
A long long time is also the approximate date when poor and middle class Americans might see benefit from Bush's economic policies. But even that outlook may prove optimistic considering that the majority of Americans are worse off today than they were in 2000 when Bush took office. In fact, it was also a long time ago, just before the Great Depression in the 20's to be precise, when the wealth disparity gulf between the haves and have nots reached the current levels. The have nots have also watched their dreams, the American Dream, disappear too. It is harder in America today to rise out of poverty and into the upper class than in almost every advanced country.
In contrast, it was only six years ago when the country was in the midst of an unprecedented economic expansion that lifted most boats and increased the middle class to never seen before levels. So, "green with envy" hardly describes my feelings watching so much wealth accumulate in the hands of so few as a direct result of intentional government policy which has ravaged the lives of millions of Americans and left the the country unrecognizable. Instead I'm beginning to see the world in black and white like the President. Actually, it's the President I see wearing black and white stripes for the rest of his life. Hey, and the guy in the cell next to him looks an awful lot like Senator Bill Frist. And there's Exxon's Lee Raymond. Tom DeLay. Wow, it's a who's who of crooks. And I think the stiff guy at the end is "Kenny Boy" Lay.
Since it appears that I am now making the rules, in addition to locking up the thieves that stole our country for the last six years, we will also liquidate each of their estates and apply the proceeds to paying down the absurd $8,664,196,168,993.12 national debt as of 9:34:18 AM GMT on December 14, 2006. Except for Kenny Boy's assets which will be split by the Enron employees that he screwed first and the government screwed second. And maybe, if there is any justice in this world, Kenny Boy's wife, Laura Bush and the rest of the families of these depraved people will be green with envy.